Four Dothan High School softball players will be taking their incredible talents on the diamond to the next level.
Seniors Hilari Hopkins (shortstop), Hannah Campbell (center field), third baseman Crystal Anderson and Tiffany Martin (outfielder/left field) each signed collegiate scholarships during a short ceremony at Dothan High School last Wednesday afternoon.
Hopkins signed a scholarship to play at Gulf Coast Community College in Panama City, Fla., while Anderson and Martin will be headed to Bishop State (Mobile) and Judson College (Marion) respectively.
This year’s senior class has been instrumental in helping the Lady Tigers get to the next level. Hopkins, Anderson and Martin each helped the Lady Tigers reach Class 6A state championship game last year before falling the finals.
This season, the Lady Tigers are currently 13-3-1 overall and 0-1 in 6A, Area 5 play heading into tonight’s 6 p.m. key area contest at Enterprise. Dothan just completed a successful weekend by earning the Daphne High School Softball Tournament title. Vestavia Hills finished in second place and Northview (14-3) came in third. The Lady Tigers stayed alive by earning their second win of the season over their crosstown rivals (3-2).
Hopkins has been an anchor in the infield from her shortstop position for the last four years. During the 2010 season, she hit .335 and owned an on-base percentage of .452 leading the Lady Tigers in both categories. Hopkins scored 38 runs, collected 18 RBIs and stole 15 bases. Defensively, Hopkins committed just 16 chances in 221 chances on defenses. She played at the Alabama North-South All-Star Softball Game this past summer in Huntsville.
Hopkins will be joining former teammates Kelsey Coleman and Natalie Walker at Gulf Coast next year. Kelsey played at third base beside Hopkins last year under herad coach Patricia Ball.
The veteran shortstop said she is excited about joining her former teammates next year.
“I’m really excited,” Hopkins said. “Kelsey and I played with each other for four years. We pretty much follow what each other can do. When I went down there for my first visit, it felt like home. I already know somebody, so I got a chance to hang out during the weekend.
“My ofference has gotten a little bit better. I’m improved with my slap hitting. It’s one of those things that you’ve got to be natural at it. You either have it or you don’t.”
Hopkins said she enjoys playing defense more because it keeps her deeply involved with the game.
“I would rather be in the field than hit,” Hopkins said. “I get a lot of reps at shortstop. Diving for a ball and catching it feels good.”
Through 18 games, Hopkins is hitting .311, with a .383 on base percentage, 14 hits and five RBIs.
Anderson strong offensive player
Anderson was Dothan’s best power hitter last season. She batted .291 with nine home runs and 33 RBIs alongside an on-base percentage of .437 for the Lady Tigers. Anderson, who plays third base and shortstop, scored 65 runs and stole 16 bases for the Lady Tigers.
One of Anderson’s biggest strengths she will bring to Bishop State is a strong glove. Anderson is a smart infielder who has a very strong arm on the left side for the Lady Tigers.
In addition, Anderson has very good speed on the bases to help head coach Patricia Ball’s team when trying to manufacture runs.
Anderson said she is looking forward to taking her game to the junior college level.
“The coach said he liked my defense and hitting,” Anderson said. “They liked my defense and hitting. They liked the way I played and carried myself as a player. The visit had good people there showing me around campus. The campus is really good. I wanted to get a taste of college life before going to the next level. They were pretty impressed with me at third base. But when I get to Bishop State, I’m going to play shortstop.”
During the first 17 games this season, Anderson is hitting .381 with .510 on-base percentage with 16 hits, one home run and 11 RBIs. She currently leads the Lady Tigers in RBIs.
Anderson belted nine home runs in 2010. However, Anderson said she gets equal if not slightly more satisfaction in moving runners over into scoring position by being a team player.
Martin to play two sports
Meanwhile, Martin will be playing volleyball and softball for Judson next year. She is projected to be the setter for volleyball and the left fielder on the softball team.
In addition, Martin said he really liked the smaller classes one-on-one help the teachers provide for student-athletes at Judson.
“I found out about them during Scholarship Day,” Martin said. “They had tryouts on campus for softball and volleyball. I did pretty good. They offered me scholarships for both sports.”
Martin said she is ready for the challenge of playing two sports at Judson College.
“It’s probably going to be a big challenge to handle academics and both sports,” Martin said. “But both sports are (scheduled) spread out. Volleyball is during the fall. Softball will be in the spring. The classes are small because the student/teacher ratio is 11:1. That will help me academically.”
Martin said she feels good about the chance of earning an outfield starting position next year.
“They’re going to be low on outfielders,” Martin said. “I will probably get a chance to play next year.”
Martin, who is projected to be a setter in volleyball, said she will probably play center at Judson next year.
Through 18 games, Martin is currently batting .293 with a .356 on-base percentage, no home runs with 6 RBIs.
Meanwhile, Campbell will be staying close to home after signing with Enterprise-Ozark Community College.
Campbell said staying close to home was important in her decision to attend the Enterprise school.
“I want my family to be at all of the games and have their support,” Campbell said. “It’s exciting to be able to play for two more years and continue that.”
Campbell said she has enjoyed a successful high school career despite dealing with an injury during her junior year.
“I was hurt most of last year with a shoulder injury,” Campbell said. “I wasn’t able to start playing until March. I feel like my speed and a strong outfielder caught their attention. I came back as a slapper and used a lot of my speed to get on base and put the ball in play.”
Campbell has drawn 10 walks and earned three sacrifices this season.
With Dothan coming just one game short of a state title last year, all of these signees are hoping to make the best out of their last 2 months of high school softball by returning to Montgomery to win a state title.
But Martin said the Lady Tigers still take things one game at a time.
“There are some small things we need to work on. But we’ll get there.”